Last Update: Mar 13, 2019

Best HDD for Gaming 2019: Ultimate Hard Drive Guide

With the advent of solid-state drives, it’s become a popular pastime to talk down the conventional hard drives, in terms of durability, speed and form factor.

However, these beauties can still provide great performance, especially considering they still have the capacity to hold much more data than the solid-state drives.

Of course, we expect that to change at some point in the future, Moore’s law anyone?

Although solid-state drives prices have been coming down in recent times, the hard disk drives still have several advantages over them, especially considering the solid-state drives are still quite expensive per gigabyte compared to the hard-disk drives.

This positions them as a cost-effective long-term storage solution, whilst offering more than satisfactory performance. That said, how do you decide on the best HDD for gaming?

Choosing the right hard drive for your gaming needs isn’t a random choice, and the wrong decision can be the difference between a great performance on GTA or a frustrating evening with the boys.

Whether you are looking to upgrade your gaming rig or considering increasing the storage on your game consoles, you should know the specs of the hard drive before you commit to buying it.

HDDStorage CapacityRotational SpeedsCache Size
Seagate BarraCuda500 GB – 8 TB5400/7200 RPM128 MB
WD Black250 GB - 6 TB7200 RPM32/64/128 MB
WD Blue250 GB - 6 TB5400/7200 RPM8/16/64 MB
WD VelociRaptor250 GB – 1 TB10000 RPM64 MB
Toshiba L200250 GB – 1 TB5400 RPM8 MB
Toshiba X3004 TB – 8 TB7200 RPM128 MB
Toshiba P300500 GB – 3 TB7200 RPM64 MB
Seagate FireCuda500 GB – 2 TB7200 RPM64 MB
Seagate IronWolf NAS6 TB – 12 TB7200 RPM256 MB

Considering the numerous options available, let’s take a deep dive into the best hard drives for gaming in 2019:

1

Seagate BarraCuda HDD

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The Seagate Barracuda 1TB is no slouch when it comes to performance and sequential read/write speeds, as its read/write speeds can easily hit 200MB/s.

Of course, you can find better performing drives, however, they all will feature higher capacities than 1TB and at the end, Seagate Barracuda is on the top of the list.

With an RPM of 7200, a great gigabyte per dollar ratio, its massive 128MB cache memory, and a great form factor of 2.5 inches – 3.5 inches, the BarraCuda is undeniably the best hard drive disk available for gamers.

Their vast storage capacity ranges from 500 GB to as much as 5 TB, which is quite remarkable in a 2.5-inch HDD, with the 2TB model hitting a sweet spot by balancing high performance and affordability.

The Seagate BarraCuda is a great buy, considering its great gigabyte per dollar ratio, low noise levels and speed. However, the BarraCuda, as with other Seagate hard drives have not proven to be as reliable as other brands.

+Pros
  • Great performance-price ratio
  • Аwesome sequential speeds
  • Бudget friendly
-Cons
  • Slow 4k random speeds
  • High failure rates
2

WD Black HDD 6TB

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The WD Black is an ideal internal storage solution for power gamers looking for the highest possible performance from the market’s current hard disk drive technology as well as those looking for an alternative to the more expensive hybrid drives.

Looking for quality?

The WD Black hard drive is the go-to HDD. Powered by a significant cache size of up to 128MB of DRAM, coupled with WD’s Dynamic Cache Technology which allocates and optimizes cache between reads and writes, this results in a high-performing hard drive.

The WD black comes with an expansive storage range; 250GB to 6TB, and an RPM of 7200, which means significantly increased read and write speeds.

The WD Black hard drive is an expensive option, but worth the spend if you are looking for a high-performance alternative to hybrid drives, especially considering its industry-leading 5-year warranty.

+Pros
  • High performance
  • Durability
  • 5-year warranty
  • Designed for power gamers
-Cons
  • An expensive option
  • Increased noise levels
3

WD Blue HDD

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The WD Blue hard drive is safe, reliable, and you know what you are getting once you invest in one.

If you just need something reliable with okay storage capacity in the meantime, while you save up for one of the more powerful beasts out there on the market, then this is a practical and wise choice for you.

The WD Blue SATA hard drive will offer you solid performance at a super affordable price on three things: reliability, affordability and sufficient speed.

It has SATA compatibility, which offers enough bandwidth for general use, but it’s not going to compete with the new kid on the block, the PCIe or PCI Express drives.

Sadly, this kind of drive won’t work in every situation. Hardcore PC gamers will not find this SATA compatibility to be enough bang for the buck, especially when trying to run a high-capacity PC with super large video files.

The WD Blue is available in 3.5 inches and 2.5 inches, with a rather limited storage capacity range; 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB.

+Pros
  • Affordable
  • Decent performance
  • Relatively quiet
-Cons
  • Limited storage capacity
  • Not the most reliable HDD in the long run
4

WD VelociRaptor

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The WD VelociRaptor hard drive, available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB is built for gamers who need more storage than an SSD can normally provide but need speed as well.

This hard drive comes with a 64MB DDR3 cache and is capable of constant read/write speeds of 206MB/s.

When it comes to PC gaming, speed is everything, and with the insane 10,000 RPM spindle speed, the VelociRaptor can launch and load large game files quickly.

Compared to standard 3.5″ drives, the VelociRaptor is quite expensive. You can buy a 3TB 7200RPM drive at roughly $0.06 per GB, compared to $0.319 per GB for the most cost-effective VelociRaptor.

Compared to an SSD however, the VRs are still cheaper – although not by a ton if compared to a low capacity drive.

+Pros
  • Insane performance and speeds
  • Built like an SSD
  • Built-in cooler
-Cons
  • Expensive
5

Toshiba L200

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The Toshiba L200 may not bring anything new to the table in terms of sequential read/write performance. However, its low temperatures and affordable price make the L200 2.5-inch hard drive by Toshiba a great choice if you are looking to expand the storage space of your gaming rig.

It comes in 500GB and 1TB storage capacities, a 5400 RPM rotation speed, and a cache memory of 8MB, which can be rather small compared to other hard drives.

The L200’s design includes an internal shock sensor, ensuring none of your data is lost. In addition, ramp loading technology means that when the gaming rig is being transported, the drive slider does not contact the disk, making your data more secure.

The Toshiba L200 is the go-to hard drive for those who do not rank performance over general reliability. On the other hand, if you do need a fast HDD, you will not be thrilled by what the Toshiba L200 has to offer.

+Pros
  • Shock resistance
  • Low temperatures
  • Great performance to cost ratio
-Cons
  • Mediocre performance
6

Toshiba X300

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The Toshiba X300, although not as great as the WD series or Seagate hard drives in terms of performance, is a high-profile performance oriented hard drive aimed at any gamer who needs tons of storage space.

That’s not to say performance is bad, since surpassing 200MB/s in sequential read/write speeds is not a small feat for any hard drive.

The X300 is designed for gamers with its 7200 RPM speed and a 128MB cache memory, that delivers the sort of performance gamers demand. Its ramp loading technology also helps with improved drive reliability, using built-in sensors to detect impact.

It is a fast and efficient hard drive intended for demanding users. And as it often goes with such hard drives, they are on the expensive side and will almost never benefit a casual user in any way.

+Pros
  • Very good read/write performance
  • High storage capacity
  • Durable
-Cons
  • Noisier than normal
  • Dubious value for casual gamers
7

Toshiba P300

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The Toshiba P300 which is basically a 3.5-inch desktop equivalent of the above L200, albeit with several improvements ticks all the boxes for a modern hard drive:

  • Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR)
  • Tunnel Magneto-Resistive recording technology (TMR)
  • Halogen Free and Advanced Format technology.

The range also adds another couple of data protection features to the list; an internal shock sensor and ramp loading technology. The P300 has up to 3TB of storage and a significantly bigger memory cache while also increasing the rotation speed to 7200 RPM.

Unlike the L200, this hard drive does not lag the competition in terms of performance and it manages to keep the build quality and reliability of the former. Not only does Toshiba manage to deliver excellent quality, but they also do it at a very reasonable and competitive price.

Overall, the P300 is a very competitively priced mainstream drive with decent performance. Toshiba has a great track record with very few cases of HDD failure, and their P300 models seem to have everything in one modestly-priced package.

The only problem you might encounter is that they are not as widespread as the other HDDs on the list, which might lead to lesser availability.

+Pros
  • Overall performance
  • Internal shock sensor
  • Excellent value for money
  • Highly reliable
-Cons
  • Not available as other models
8

Seagate FireCuda

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SSDs are the drives everyone wishes they had… Introducing the best of both worlds: FireCuda SSHD!

And it’s not hard to fathom why. However, if you are a gamer that needs tons of storage, coupled with a lot of speed, the Seagate 2TB FireCuda takes the cake as the best solid-state hard drive for gaming.

It can fit up to 2TB of data, and its 8GB of solid state cache storage uses the NAND flash partitioning to learn and store the data at insanely fast read/write speeds of over 200MB/s, allowing you use most to access it faster. That speed boost is even sweeter when you consider this drive spins at a fresh 7,200rpm.

Top this off with its 5-year warranty and approachable price tag, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best and reliable hard drives out there that won’t stop gaming with you.

+Pros
  • NAND-boosted performance
  • SSD-level boot times
  • Small size with a large capacity
-Cons
  • Not faster than traditional drives at standard file operations.
9

Seagate IronWolf

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The Seagate IronWolf hard drives are designed for Network Attached Storage (NAS), enabling you to save those irreplaceable backups.

It’s a little unfortunate that the Seagate IronWolf NAS drives come at a premium value, but they aren’t priced much more expensively than a standard hard drive at their capacity.

However, their native NAS optimization makes that premium totally worth it. These drives can run at a fast 7,200 rpm spin rate 24/7 without you having to worry about drive failure.

If you are thinking of investing in a NAS, the Seagate IronWolf is your best bet for quiet and decent performance.

+Pros
  • Great speed
  • High capacity
-Cons
  • Rather expensive
  • Lower capacities are slower

Best Gaming Hard Drives: Buying Guide

 

It’s tempting to want everything as high as possible. However, in the end, it depends on what will be the main purpose of your drive, and the more the better doesn’t necessarily work in the world of hard drives.

When considering a hard drive from the ones mentioned above, you might need to consider the following:

Cache Size

The hard drive cache is called a ‘buffer’ by some, as it is a literal buffer that works on your hard drive disk. Basically, it tries to serve and use temporary memory for your hard drive, as it simultaneously writes permanent storage notes on the spinning platters. In a way, the hard drive cache acts exactly like RAM, but it is made specifically for your hard drive rather than being a separate physical item.

Have you ever been in a round of League of Legends, and you are stuck in the loading screen before a match because one of your team members has extremely high ping? They are likely suffering from either a poor connection or a clunky hard drive, with an extremely low cache that is working overtime to buffer the game properly.

However, cache size shouldn’t be the key factor in identifying a hard drive that is ideal for your needs. As a matter of fact, a larger cache will only lead to slight performance improvements during demanding tasks, something that you are unlikely to even notice unless you were comparing two drives side by side.

Capacity

This might seem obvious – get hard drives with large storage capacity.

However, that would mean you are one hard drive failure away from losing all your data. It is safer to own multiple hard drives or buy an extra drive as a backup.

They can be easily damaged, will slow down and eventually break over time.

Rotation Speeds

The term RPM stands for rotations per minute, which indicates how many times the platter in a disk drive can complete a 360-degree rotation each minute.

Since hard drives must spin to access and transfer data, a higher RPM hard drive will be able to access and transfer data faster.

During operation, higher RPM is most noticeable when launching new programs that force the computer to access the hard drive, or when writing transferring large amounts of data to or from the hard drive.

A hard drive’s RPM will have less impact on the speed of a computer in running a program after it is launched since necessary data will be saved to the computer’s RAM for faster access.

In general, higher RPM means equates to superior hard drive performance, but to achieve higher rotational speeds, this also means higher energy usage.

Reliability

There is always the chance that your hard drive will fail, no matter how reliable it is. Therefore, it’s important that you have a backup drive, which could be external storage, or as everyone is wont to do these days, cloud storage.

BackBlaze puts out detailed statistics on hard drive failures regularly, so if it’s something you are interested in, do head over there.

Compatibility

When deciding on components to add to your system, it is always important to ensure the system is compatible with the new components, and there are no underlying or hidden costs you might have to bear to ensure a hitch-free connection.

Luckily, this isn’t something that you need to worry about with modern hard drives, seeing as they have all been using SATA 3.0 connectors for quite a while now. Even if you have an old motherboard which only supports SATA 2.0, it is not a problem since SATA 3.0 is fully backward compatible.


Gaming HDDs: Frequently Asked Questions

 

Does an External Hard Drive Affect Gaming Performance?

External hard drives have little to no impact on performance while the game is running. Where it impacts the most is where there’s lots of loading, such as starting a new game, loading a new level, or loading from a save file. If you are however thinking of this sort of set-up, an SSD hard drive would be best suited for this.

It’s important to note that this sort of set-up means you can only play games on your PC where you installed the games. Installing games in your external hard drive don’t grant it plug and play capabilities.

Which Is Better: HDD vs. SSD?

There’s no straight-forward answer to this question; each buyer has different needs and you must evaluate the decision based on those needs, your preferences, and of course budget. Generally, hard disk drives work well for gaming.

If the HDD has enough capacity to store your games (the current average needed is about 525GB) and is fast enough to support the graphics, you should have no trouble.

You can check out our in-depth review of the best SSD for gaming if you are considering an SSD drive.

However, choosing between a single hard drive or solid-state drive is not the only option. It’s possible to use a combination of internal and external drives in different configurations of hard drives and solid-state drives to work with both your budget and your need for fast load times.

What Is the Best HDD for Your Gaming Laptop?

The budget-friendly Seagate Barracuda, with its amazing read/write speeds, is still our most preferred hard disk drive when considering what to install on your gaming laptop.


The Final Verdict

Once again, here’s a quick rundown of our ‘champions’ for this list:

Best Value for Money

The Seagate BarraCuda is a great buy and the winner of this contest. Considering its great gigabyte per dollar ratio, low noise levels and speed it’s the perfect option.

For the Budget Conscious Gamer

However, if you are budget conscious, the WD Blue hard drive is safe, reliable, and you know what you are getting once you invest in one.  If you just need something reliable with okay storage capacity in the meantime, this is a practical choice for you.

Best Hard Drive Quality Wise

The WD Black is an ideal internal storage solution for power gamers looking for the highest possible performance from the market’s current hard disk drive technology as well as those looking for an alternative to the more expensive hybrid drives.

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